17/02/2024 Adelaide Summer League Division 2 Semi-Final Game1 – Unicorns v Snipers 3-4

Some photos (taken by Karen Kutsche) from the Adelaide Summer League Division 2 Semi-Final Game1 between the 2nd finishing Unicorns and the 3rd finishing Snipers played on Saturday 17/02/2024.  Both teams had to borrow their Division 1 goaltenders for this encounter.  In goals for Unicorns was Angus Schuppan, recently drafted to the Jokers Adelaide Winter League team, and Bradley Smith for the Snipers.  The Unicorns would have a short bench with only 8 skaters (and Jordan Kutsche on defence gate), against the Snipers 12 skaters.  Things would be tough for the Unicorns later in the game when bodies would get tired, but the Unicorns had played with some short benches during the season so were up for a challenge.

The scoring opened with a bang!  Merely 16secs into the game and Unicorns Owen McIntyre would find the back of the net after assists from Frank Kutsche (me!) and Victoria Rickards.  The joy was shortlived though as Snipers Christian Wangel equalised a bit over a minute later.  The assists coming from captain Scott Buley and Rebecca Wellens.  Buley would give the Snipers a go-ahead goal with 9mins to play in the period with an assist coming from Steve Thompson.  He had 3 whacks at the puck which appeared to be lodged underneath goaltender Schuppan but had come loose.  Around 3mins left to play 2 penalties were dished out, a 2min minor for tripping to Unicorns Paul (Pavel) Hruby and 2mins for hooking to Snipers Buley.  Shots on goal for the period saw Unicorns Schuppan face 7 shots and Snipers Smith face 10 shots.  Unfortunately a knee injury saw me having to miss the last 6mins of the period whilst deciding whether to pull out of the game.

The two teams were very equally matched and so far the Unicorns were able to play OK with the short bench.  The only score for the 2nd period was Unicorns McIntyre scoring his 2nd goal of the game after an assist from playing coach Joel O’Brien.  He would take full advantage of a rare mistake by the Snipers goaltender when the puck spilled loose, and dragged it to the open goal side and scored.  McIntyre would also be the only person heading to sin bin for the period, but it was a team penalty for too many players on the ice.  The evenness of the teams was matched by the low number of shots on goal.  Shots on goal for the period saw Schuppan face 3 shots to Smith facing 7 shots.  Once again Unicorns Kutsche would sit out over 5mins at the end of the period nursing the knee injury.

Third period would continue as tight as the other two, something had to give.  Unicorns Tadhg Norton would go top the sinbin for a tripping minor at 14:45 to give the Snipers a chance to go ahead with momentum.  Their captain Scott Buley would score a minute later.  The assist came from Christian Wangel.  At 12:12 the Unicorns would get their chance on a powerplay as Snipers Wyatt Apat was deemed for hooking.  The Unicorns were unable to get past the Snipers Div1 goaltender.  Buley would once again inflict more pain, scoring his hat trick goal at 9:35 to give the Snipers a 2-goal lead.  Jonathan Kovarch had the assist.  The Unicorns fought back hard but could just not get the puck past goaltender Bradley Smith.  However, Owen McIntyre fancied a hat trick himself trying desperately to get the Unicorns back within touch.  Time would beat the Unicorns and game 1 would go the way of the Snipers, but the Unicorns had put up a gallant fight with such a short bench and with injuries.  Shots on goal for the game saw Unicorns Angus Schuppan face 16 shots, whilst Snipers Bradley Smith had faced 22 shots.

The Unicorns would strike back the next night in game 2 of the best of 3 semi final series.  The score was locked at 0-0 at the end of regulation time.  Joel O’Brien would score, unassisted, the game winning goal in overtime for the Unicorns.